by Cherie Ann Turpin
[not a complete story]
Emergency kits come in many forms for many reasons. The best ones come from improvisation, imagination, and sheer panic in the midst of crisis. Exactly one year after moving into a roach-infested apartment above a vegetarian restaurant, Alexia found herself in the midst of a very big crisis. It was 1994, one year after she moved out of the apartment she shared with her obsessive, meth-addicted ex-boyfriend who dropped out of grad school after failing his exams. As he grew obsessed with exacting revenge for what he viewed as betrayal, she began writing her dissertation, a creative memoir. Despite her efforts to maintain distance and secrecy, he found her apartment building and number; he and a male friend would drive to the front of the building late at night and repeatedly pound his fist on the doorbell, only to disappear into the trees across the street at the sight of the occasional police squad car rolling down Fallon Boulevard.
The phone calls began with a barrage of back-to-back hang-up calls from pay phones across Kent, Providence, and Washington Counties. Rhode Island State Police and Providence Police were concerned, but unable to do much more than document the incidents. He never spoke or screamed at her; he listened, and sometimes he breathed, as if to inhale her smell through wires and wavelengths. She sometimes wondered if he slept at night anymore, or how he continued his campaign, only to remember that his co-dependent parents continued to support him and his drug habit. She wondered if they knew of his haggard state, his refusal to bathe, shave, or change clothes–or of his spiral into madness.
Alexia’s decision to consult with a spiritual counselor came as a result of her discovering half of her Chevy Nova awash with what she hoped was animal blood and offal. The windows were smeared with obscenities and bizarre sigils written in dark, dried, and clotted blood. She wondered if the animal was still breathing when he did it. The police took pictures and finally questioned her ex who, of course, denied everything. No fingerprints were found, and since there were no eyewitnesses, he was released with a warning.
Alexia realized time was running short; she needed to construct an emergency kit.
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